JW Sues Secret Service for Records Detailing Costs of Luxury Vacations Taken by Obama, First Lady, and Biden
FOIA lawsuit seeks expenditure records of U.S. Government funds for Obama’s Palm Beach ‘weekend with the boys, presidential style,’ First Lady’s, VP’s ski vacations to Aspen
(Washington, DC) – Judicial Watch announced today that it filed a Freedom of Information (FOIA) lawsuit on June 21, 2013, in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia against the U.S. Secret Service to obtain information pertaining to the costs to taxpayers of Barack Obama’s February, 2013, vacation in Palm Beach, Florida, and the simultaneous vacations of Michelle Obama and Joseph Biden in Aspen, Colorado (Judicial Watch v. U.S. Secret Service (No. 1:13-cv-00950)).
Specifically, Judicial Watch seeks access to the following records pursuant to its February 15, 2013, FOIA request:
- Any and all records concerning, regarding or related to the expenditure of U.S. Government funds to provide security and/or other services to President Obama and any companions during his February 2013 trip to Palm Beach, Florida;
- Any and all records concerning, regarding, or related to the expenditure of U.S. Government funds to provide security and/or other services to First Lady Michelle Obama and any companions during her February 2013 trip to Aspen, Colorado;
- Any and all records concerning, regarding, or related to the expenditure of U.S. Government funds to provide security and/or other services to Vice President Biden and any companions during his February 2013 trip to Aspen, Colorado.
By letter on March 18, 2013, the Secret Service acknowledged having received Judicial Watch’s request on February 27, 2013. By law, it had until March 27, 2013, to notify Judicial Watch of its determination, the reasons therefore, and the right to appeal any adverse determination. As of the date of the FOIA lawsuit, the Secret Service had failed either to comply or to indicate when a response will be forthcoming.
On February 15, 2013, in an article entitled, “Obama treats himself to boys’ weekend in Florida,” the Associated Press reported that the president “high-tailed it south after a speech Friday in Chicago on building a stronger middle class.” Reporting on Obama’s retreat to the West Palm Beach “well-trod stomping ground of the rich,” WhiteHouseDossier.com observed, “While unemployment stands at nearly eight percent, Obama is taking his second vacation of 2013. The year is only six weeks old.”
Also on February 15, 2013, the Washington Post reported that “First Lady Michelle Obama and daughters Sasha and Malia are spending their Presidents’ Day weekend in Aspen, Colo., where they’re expected to hit the ski slopes.” According the article, Michelle Obama and her daughters had spent the past two President’s Day weekends in Aspen. The article reported that Vice President Biden and his family were also vacationing in the swanky ski resort town.
The Judicial Watch suit is not the first time the organization has been forced to go to court to obtain information about taxpayer funding of lavish vacations for the president and his family. In October 2011, Judicial Watch obtained documents pertaining to a June 21-27, 2011, trip taken by Michelle Obama, her family and her staff to South Africa and Botswana. According to expense records and manifests for that trip, the cost for flight and crew alone was $424,142.
In April 2012, Judicial Watch obtained documents through a FOIA lawsuit from the United States Air Force and the United States Secret Service detailing costs associated with what the press described as Michelle Obama’s “whirlwind tour of Spain” in August, 2010. According to a Judicial Watch analysis, the trip, which included visits to coastal towns, shopping and a lunch date with the country’s King and Queen, cost the taxpayers at least $467,585.
“These lavish personal vacations are symbolic of the total indifference this administration has to the out of control costs of government,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. “And once again, the administration is, contrary to law, stonewalling simple requests for just how about much their luxe lifestyles are costing American taxpayers.”